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        Changing your career in your 40s or 50s

        Changing your career in your 40s or 50s

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          Starting from scratch in a new career in your 40s or 50s can be a great adventure – but it can be daunting and competitive, too. Have a read of our guide to switching career mid-stream, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

          The era of one career for life is long over, and these days people are likely to switch jobs far more often. In fact, in January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US reported the average time an employee spent in one role was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 years in January 2014. It’s even becoming more common for people to switch to a completely new career.

          But doing it when you’re in your 40s, 50s or older, can have its own unique problems. We take a look at a few and how you can handle them.

          Are you over qualified?
          Be prepared to feel a little over-qualified. While you may not have the exact skills your new career demands, you’ll have plenty of transferable skills which you can turn to any task.

          These transferable skills will come in useful and help you progress up the career ladder faster, so instead of feeling impatient, try to relax in the knowledge that you’ll be able to climb quickly through the ranks.

          Smiling aged businesswoman in glasses looking at colleague at team meeting, happy attentive female team leader listening to new project idea, coach mentor teacher excited by interesting discussion

          How to handle it

          Don’t look down on work you consider to be below you. Finish it competently and quickly and show your new company how valuable you can be to them. You’ll start your ascent on the new career ladder sooner than you’d hoped!

          Or maybe you’re under qualified
          Due to your vast experience in the professional sphere, you might find yourself feeling out of your depth on your first day if you’re already expecting to know how everything works. Even the most experienced person can find they’re under-qualified when starting a new career.

          How to handle it
          Apply skills you already learned in your last job in your new role – you’ll be surprised how much they’ll be able to boost you. Look out for relevant evening classes and online courses in your new field, and get ready for evenings in with the books. You’ll start getting your head around all the new information in no time.

          Your boss may be younger than you
          One of your biggest challenges will be the possibility of having a boss, or even a senior, considerably younger than you. You might even feel they’re less experienced than you – after all, they haven’t been slogging through professional life for as long as you have.

          But remember: you’re essentially starting from scratch. While you might have been working for over two decades, it doesn’t mean you have the experience to work in your new position. And just because your boss is younger, doesn’t mean they’re any less good at their job.

          How to handle it
          You must enter into a new job with an open-mind and a readiness to learn from and trust your boss, no matter how young they are. Remember, they’ve climbed the ranks for a reason – they must have a valued skillset and way of thinking and working that you can learn from.

          Working longer hours
          Beginning from scratch in a new career means you might have to put in some extra hours to get to grips with all the new information you’re faced with.

          While this is fine for younger workers without a family, you may well have commitments at home like collecting children from school.

          How to handle it
          Have a chat with your supervisor about flexible working. One of the good things about working in a younger environment is that millennials love remote working, and your boss will likely completely understand and encourage you to work from home sometimes. Under changes to legislation, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.

          Be prepared for a pay cut
          A change in career can be challenging – mentally and financially.

          The first few months to a year may be difficult as you might have to take a pay cut for longer hours as you adjust. As a new starter, you might also find you have fewer holidays – but details like that will depend on your new company.

          How to handle it
          Make sure your finances are in order. Will your new wage cover your household bills, are you going to have to cut back on holidays, does the new company offer any benefits?

          Finally – remember that starting a new career can be a brilliant adventure, so welcome everything with an open mind, and enjoy it!


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